Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Chariot For All Seasons

This post is a little overdue, but perhaps it will be of use to someone for next year... After using the Chariot kid trailer last winter, we decided it needed a little modification for winter use. The main issues we had with it were the lack on insulation for cold weather. The really cold wet rain would saturate the fabric on the bottom of the trailer and then saturate Samuel's pants, making for a very cold little boy. Also, he would kick it open and then cold air would flow right threw and we'd have to stop, velcro it closed and keep going, then repeat all over. In the snow, when there wasn't precipitation to wet the bottom of the chariot, the cold would get through the fabric and chill the kiddos. This isn't really a design flaw in the Chariot, I understand that it's not designed for the kind of use we put it through. We needed to modify. I was shocked at how inexpensive (free) it was to modify it! We had all the necessary materials laying around and even if we hadn't, the materials were not too bad. :)

For insulating the bottom of the Chariot, we took 3 double thick strips of closed cell foam and encased them inside a double thick layer of polar fleece. Construction is simple. It's essentially a giant rectangle of fleece with the foam inside. The closed cell foam is unique in that it is really stiff and doesn't compress flat and so it makes a really good insulator. We put a nylon panel across the bottom so we could easily wipe off boot grunge. We then encased a double layer of 6 oz Primaloft in down-proof nylon to make a super warm quilt and attached this too the bottom of the insulated fleece/foam panel. this way you can flip the blanket forward, insert kiddos without dropping the blanket on the dirty floor and then flip the blanket back. We made this blanket extra wide so as to tuck in around the sides of their hips where there is no insulation. To block the draft through the netting at the back, we just stuffed a down jacket in the back pocket. Finally, we attached a hook to the velcro and tied some shock cord around the front wheel attachment place to secure the Chariot closed, so no more kicking it open. :) In reality, we only had to use this a few times until the little guy gave up. It's nice to have that secure closure as an option though, in case there is cold weather and a child gets into a "kick the door open" mood.

We've used this set-up all winter in Colorado. The coldest rides were about 4 degrees Fahrenheit for extended periods of time (1.5 hrs +) and the kids are so warm, they are taking off their mittens! Yay! One nice thing about the trailer in the winter is that it can't fall over if I do. This makes me more relaxed in the ice, even though it's highly unlikely that I'll fall with all the studs on the tires and the slow speeds I carry. The down-side is that it can be very slow in deep snow. With the motor working again I don't worry about it as much though!

Happy modifying!